Late night on Saturday atop the ancient Jamkaran mosque of Kyom province, Iran hoisted the flag of Al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib, a grandson of the Islamic prophet Mohammed and a son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Mohammed’s daughter Fatimah, who Muslims believe died for the faith in Karbala, presently in Iraq. Husayn is among the top religious icons of the Shi’ah sect of Islam. In fact, he is the most important Shi’ah figure historically, as his death launched the Shi’ah movement. His followers counter-attacked, which started a civil war known as the Second Fitna in Islam. Yazid died during the strife although Husayn’s followers could not get him. Raising the flag of Husayn implies Iran is looking for revenge.
The flag means signalling the beginning of a war or a warning to be ready for a war. A few hours later, four rocket and mortar attacks targeted the US embassy and military bases in Iraq.
The first attack, according to the Iraqi army, was carried out by targeting the US embassy in a heavily guarded green zone. One mortar fell on the Celebrations Square near the embassy and the other at a house in Jadaria, a residential area, injuring five people. The green zone has government offices and embassies from various countries.
The second attack took place at the Albalad airbase of Salauddin province, 80 km from Baghdad. The US Army arrived here on Saturday. Four rockets were fired at the airbase, which fell outside the southern door. Surveillance drones soon after took off in search of the attackers.
The third attack took place at the Kindi airbase in Mosul, northern Iraq. Mortars were also fired here. Late-night mortars were fired at US military bases built in the palaces of former President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. After these attacks, surveillance of Baghdad was started by American fighter jets and helicopters.
“We have identified 35 such US bases in the Middle East (West Asia), including Tel Abib,” said Abuhamzeh, commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards. Describing the Gulf of Hormuz as an important point for western countries, he warned to be prepared for attacks in the region. Abuhamjeh said that wherever we see Americans, we will teach them a lesson.
‘Another attack, and we will bomb 52 locations of Iran’
Immediately after these attacks, the US said that it would take strong action against the attackers.
US President Donald Trump has once again given a stern warning to Iran. Trump said, “If Iran tries to harm our people and targets by attacking again, we will demolish 52 of its bases in one stroke.” These 52 locations are important for Iran and Iranian culture. “We are ready to give a befitting reply to any attack,” the US president said.
Trump said that Iran is talking boldly about targeting some US assets. “They are speaking out to avenge the assassination of their terrorist leader who killed the American people throughout his life and badly injured many. There is no need to name all those victims here,” the US president said.
The US is cautious amid Iran’s counter-attack. With increased vigil in the Middle East, the Trump administration has told the US parliament that Iran can retaliate within a week.
The US has pledged to send more force to Iraq and on the other hand, Trump has said he does not want war.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi told CNN that the attacks were “war action from the US”. The attacks are a dramatic development amid growing tension between Iran and the US.
Trump, who was celebrating a New Year holiday at a private resort after the death of an Iranian military commander in a US drone attack, spoke to the media and said that we remember the victims of Sulaimani’s terror.
“He has been carrying out terrorist conspiracies for the last 20 years to destabilize the Middle East. He plotted major attacks in London and Delhi. Recently Sulaimani led the brutal suppression of protesters in Iran. More than 1,000 innocent civilians were tortured and killed there,” the US president said.
Britain on rescue mission
The United Kingdom said it would send its ships to the Middle East amid war conditions that arose after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander, by the United States. Britain will deploy two of its warships on the Strait Hormuz in order to ensure the safety of British citizens in the midst of escalating tensions in the Middle East.
Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “I have instructed warships HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to prepare.” He said that at this time the British government would take all necessary steps to protect its ships and civilians.